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  • Ne Tentes aut Perfice*Early Hawaiian Diplomacy in the Southwestern Pacific and the Creation of Hawai‘i’s First Royal Order
  • Lorenz Gonschor (bio)


In early 1860, King Kamehameha IV granted royal assent to the Order of Arossi, an order “for the reward of those who have materially aided the Social and Political Advancement of any Polynesian Government or People.”1 The monarch thereby created the first Hawaiian royal order, preceding by several years King Kamehameha V’s 1865 creation of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, which is commonly assumed to be the first such order.2 Unlike the later Hawaiian royal orders created by Kamehameha V and Kalākaua, however, the Order of Arossi—named after a place in the Solomon Islands—was not conceived of in the Hawaiian Islands but thousands of miles away in what was then the British colony of New South Wales, by a group of diplomats representing the Hawaiian Kingdom in Sydney. While none of them were of Hawaiian ancestry, and only one of them would set foot [End Page 55] in Hawai‘i later in his life, the creators of the Order of Arossi played an important role in connecting the Hawaiian Islands not only to the Australian colonies but also to the archipelagos of the Southwestern Pacific. Furthermore, their Sydney office formed the nexus for the spread of the Hawaiian constitution as a model for other island kingdoms to emulate, and their activities, symbolized by the Order of Arossi, also laid the groundwork for Hawai‘i’s pan-Oceanianist foreign policy as it would be espoused especially under the reign of King Kalākaua during the mid-1880s.

This article provides a background to the origin of this first Hawaiian Royal Order by highlighting the roles played by Hawai‘i’s diplomatic and consular representatives in the Southwestern Pacific in shaping Hawaiian policy towards Oceania. It will first provide some context of the development of Hawai‘i’s diplomatic and consular network and the individuals involved, with a specific emphasis on the Southwestern Pacific. The article then focuses on the two central figures in this regional diplomatic network, Charles St Julian and Edward Reeve, whose motivations and passions for their work differed from most other consular personnel. Having introduced the main protagonists who conceived of the Order of Arossi, our attention will then turn to the peculiar circumstances of its creation, namely a quite extraordinary story of failed British settler adventurism in the Solomon Islands upon which a Hawaiian connection was later grafted. Continuing the story of the expanding Hawaiian consular network in the Southwestern Pacific during the 1870s and 1880s, it concludes with an assessment of the network’s contributions to the Hawaiian Kingdom’s larger pan-Oceanian policy, including a critical evaluation of the individuals involved.

Hawaiian Diplomatic and Consular Representation Abroad

In the nineteenth century world order, the Hawaiian Kingdom had a unique status. In 1843 it became the first non-Western nation that received full recognition as an independent state by the Western powers.3 Subsequently, Hawai‘i established equal treaty relations with almost every single Western nation. This made Hawai‘i unique among non-Western nations, as the European powers had not only not colonized [End Page 56] the Islands but recognized them as one of their equals, a status they would deny all other Pacific islands, but also Japan until 1899 and China until as late as the mid-twentieth century.4

Secondly, from the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Hawaiian Islands had become a hub for the trans-Pacific trade between the Americas and Asia. As early as in 1801, French scholar Charles Pierre Claret de Fleurieu had predicted that Hawai‘i would become the “caravansary of the Pacific”5 and by the time the kingdom started modernizing its political structure in the 1840s during Kamehameha III’s rule, Honolulu had definitely become “a center, rather than a periphery, of the Pacific World.”6 It was in the context of these expanding trade relations that the Hawaiian Kingdom established a wide range of consulates and consular agencies around the world, starting in 1850. The driving...


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pp. 55-100
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